“March Madness” was the annual tournament of high school boys basketball teams, sponsored by the Illinois High School Association, grew from a small invitational affair in 1908 to a statewide institution with over 900 schools competing by the late 1930′s.
“March Madness” was a phrase coined by Henry V. Porter in 1939 describing a basketball tournament for Illinois High School. The phrase was first used during NCAA coverage in 1982 by Brent Musburger causing a legal battle as insane as the playoffs.
NCAA and the Illinois High School Assoc. jointly hold the registered trademark for the term “March Madness”.
During the tournament’s “Golden Era” of the 1940′s and 1950′s, “March Madness” became the popular name of the event. It was an era of some of Illinois’ most legendary teams, including the undefeated 1944 Taylorville squad and Mt. Vernon’s unstoppable back-to-back champions of 1949 and 1950. But the one champion remembered more than any other is tiny Hebron, a school of only 98 students, which won the tournament in 1952.
It wasn’t until the early 1980′s that fans of NCAA basketball began to use the term to describe the playoff series that takes place at the college/university level.
2012 NCAA Tournament: March Madness Site, Venue and Ticket Information
History of March Madness (www.basketball.org)